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Sustainability considerations for energy options
“Sustainability” is so over-used that it has lost meaningful value. Here we use the term to refer to the relative capacity of an activity to continue while maintaining options for future generations. Thus, other things being equal, activities that conserve non-renewable resources for future use are inherently more sustainable than those which do not. Addressing sustainability goals and determining whether progress is being made requires agreement on an approach for measurement. Our team has developed an approach to assess progress toward sustainability. The approach is meant to help address questions such as (1) what are the costs and benefits of this activity? and (2) are there ways the activity can be deployed to reduce costs or enhance benefits? Our approach for assessing progress toward sustainability involves six steps with decisions made at each step. First the scope of the assessment is established based on the particular context and options. Next indicators are selected and prioritized that pertain to the objective. Then, baselines and targets are determined for each indicator. Fourth, the indicator values are collected and evaluated. Once the values are in hand, trends and tradeoffs in the indicator set are analyzed. The final step involves development, application and evaluation of good practices for the activity. We would like to engage participants in a discussion of how this approach can be applied to bioenergy, hydropower, nuclear energy, and wind power as compared to fossil fuel based energy.
Abb 1 / Prof. Dr. Virgina H. Dale
is a Corporate Fellow at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) where she serves as Director of the Center for BioEnergy Sustainability. She obtained her PhD in Mathematical Ecology from the University of Washington. Her primary research interests are environmental decision making, plant succession, land-use change, landscape ecology, ecological modeling, sustainability, and bioenergy systems. Virginia has authored 10 books and more than 250 published articles. She has served on national scientific advisory boards for five agencies of the United States and several committees of the National Academies of Science. She was among the members of the international science community that contributed to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Scientific Assessment that in 2007 received with Al Gore the Nobel Peace Prize. She was recognized by the Distinguished Landscape Ecologist award by the United States Regional Association of the International Association for Landscape Ecology in 2013.
Abb 2 / Keith L. Kline
completing studies at the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources
(specializing in Energy and the Environment), Keith joined the Peace Corps and
began a 22-year career working with partners in developing nations to improve
livelihoods while conserving forests and biodiversity. Projects supported
energy options for rural communities, community-based concessions, land tenure
and conflict resolution. Since 1990, Keith has been affiliated with the Oak
Ridge National Laboratory where current research includes assessing
sustainability of energy production systems, standards and certification.